Lot 201, "Conjectures," by Jean Dubuffet, acrylic on paper mounted on canvas, 26 1/4 by 39 3/8 inches, 1964
201 is a vibrant acrylic on paper mounted on canvas by Jean Dubuffet
(1901-1985). Entitled "Conjectures, it measures 26 1/4 by 39 3/8
inches and was painted in 1964.
catalogue provides the following commentary:
"A jubilant fusion of form and motion, Conjectures, brilliantly exemplifies the visual complexity, vibrancy and creativity which characterizes the very best of Jean Dubuffet’s celebrated oeuvre, made possible by his deliberate rejection of cultural pretensions and unique Art Brut aesthetic. Conjectures, from 1964, executed at the very peak of Dubuffet’s artistic prowess, is rare for its extraordinary kaleidoscopic celebration of color and is from the artist’s most highly esteemed series, titled L’Hourloupe. Conjectures is brimming with energy and is an electrifying, technicolor vision of Dubuffet’s most famous cellular chaos, which he would go on to expand into a vast multi-media universe over the course of the next twelve years. Remarking upon the L’Hourloupe series, Dubuffet explained, "This cycle of work was characterized by a much more seriously arbitrary and irrational mood than anything I had done before. This was a plunge into fantasy, into a phantom parallel universe. My renewed interest in outsider art was no doubt not unconnected with this sudden new development" (the artist quoted in Exh. Cat., Salzburg, Museum de Moderne (and traveling), Jean Dubuffet: Trace of an Adventure, 2003, p. 174).
"Dubuffet left Paris in 1955, abandoning the war-torn city to find solace in the small town of Vence in the South of France. During this period, Dubuffet rejected the presence of human form from his work and turned to nature as the primary source of his investigations through the Texturologies and Materiologies series. Upon his return to Paris in 1961, Dubuffet’s work explored an entirely new world and departure drastically from his explorations of the tactile qualities of organic material so familiar to him in the remoteness of his former rural life. The Paris that Dubuffet returned to was revitalized to a point where optimism and cosmopolitan bustle had replaced the gloom and despondency that had formerly prevailed in the post-war years. Paris’s new joie de vivre atmosphere left Dubuffet creatively intoxicated, which played an immediate, explosive effect on his work, culminating in the exuberant Paris Circus pictures of 1961-1962. The bustling streets, busy restaurants, window displays, and advertising boards of city life came to dominate Dubuffet’s paintings in a way he never before imagined. Where Dubuffet once celebrated the quaintness of life in the countryside, he now celebrated humanity on a grand scale, transforming its energetic spirit into the subject of his art while laying the foundation for his greatest series of works: L’Hourloupe. Dubuffet himself said that, “My art does not seek to include festivities as a distraction from everyday life, but to reveal that everyday life is a much more interesting celebration than the pseudo-celebrations created to distract from it” (The artist quoted in Exh. Cat., Paris, Musée National d’art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Jean Dubuffet, 2001).
"Dubuffet first embarked on the L’Hourloupe series in 1962 while on long telephone conversations where he would find himself creating mindless doodles made of up forms free of all representation, tightly fitted together in an unbroken web, which he would then mechanically fill with careful striped lines in blue or red ballpoint pen. The result of a simple occupation of the artist’s free hand while the other held the receiver developed into a form of graffiti that soon came to possess an evocative power that captivated the artist for the next twelve years as he continued explored these energetic, cellular forms. For the first time, he felt he had arrived at a mode of representation that was purely neuronal—a way of seeing unfettered by the physical world. The early paintings of L’Hourloupe, such as Conjectures executed in JUNE/MAY 1964, engaged much of the same subject matter as the Paris Circus street scenes, but represented a shift in Dubuffet’s aesthetic dialogue; with increasing simplification, elements and experiences of the real world are eventually transformed into ciphers of the artist’s imagining. Dubuffet’s works from the L'Hourloupe series including Conjectures define themselves as a kind of organic phenomenon, a cellular agitation where the gaze perceives fugitive images in a vast puzzle of ephemeral combinations, suggesting presences, figure or people that fall apart as soon as the gaze fixes them, only adding to the canvas’s palpable energy.
"Bursting with vital energy and frenetic pace, the composition of Conjectures melds together years of Dubuffet’s experiences into an unparalleled amalgamation of form, color, and line which can be traced throughout this expansive oeuvre. In his own words, “Art should always make us laugh and frighten us a little, but never bore us,” which is exactly what Conjectures embodies (Jean Dubuffet, Propsctus aux amateurs de tout genre, Paris 1946, p. 43). Conjectures is a vibrant example from Dubuffet’s artistic output from 1962 to 1974 in which he produced some of the most visually captivating and richly imaginative paintings of his career."
"The rich surface and flawless formal precision in View from the Balcony’s composition lends itself to the energetic innovation of Hofmann’s painterly process, which became especially charged with exuberance in the last decade of his life. Although Hofmann was from an older generation than his Post-War artistic peers, he effectively bridged the School of Paris with the New York Abstract Expressionists by way of artistic innovation and enlightenment. The artist looks to Matisse's kaleidoscopic balcony scenes such as Open Window, Collioure where the view of dancing sailboats shimmers just beyond the vibrantly colored and heavily impastoed interior which brings energy and life to the picture plane pulling the viewing to another place and time. Hofmann’s groundbreaking push-pull thesis is evidenced by the formal structure in View from the Balcony, whereby the composition is made of geometric blocks of richly saturated color, intricately organized within an exacting formal structure. Against the underlayer of burnt orange and cherry red, the carefully layered strata of rich ochre and sugared yellow, simultaneously float towards the viewer and recede inward in the present work, with a rhythmic ethereal quality. As conveyed by the artist himself: "The movement of a carrier on a flat surface is possibly only through the act of shifting left and right or up and down. To create the phenomenon of push and pull on a flat surface one has to understand that by nature the picture plane reacts automatically in the opposite direction to the stimulus received; thus action continues as long as it received stimulus in the creative process" (the artist cited in William Chapin Seitz, Ed., Hans Hofmann with Selected Writings by the Artist, New York 1963, p. 32).
"Across the surface of View from the Balcony are thin flicks of dazzling blues, luscious pinks, deep reds and warm yellow oil paint, captured within Hofmann’s characteristically tactile and impasto horizontal painting technique—a spatial plane approach he taught for nearly forty years. Although Hofmann had retired from teaching in 1958, the influence of his renowned formal instruction is readily visible by the sheer geometry and collapsing of color and form in View from the Balcony. The Hofmann School of Fine Art in New York was considered the most advanced art school in the nation by 1937, and “Hans Hofmann’s name was legend among the artists hoping to tap the vein that began with Manet and led through Kandinsky, Miró, Matisse and Picasso” (Mary Gabriel, Ninth Street Women, Boston 2018, p. 32). The lustrous, expansive surface of View from the Balcony thus not only heralds the celebration of abstracted color and form, it is the underlying tenet of aesthetic liberation."
The lot has an estimate of $500,000 to
$700,000. It sold for $560,000.
Lot 106, "Pool and Pink Pole," by David Hockney, oil on canvas, 21 by 25 inches, 1984
106 is bright oil on canvas by David Hockney (b. 1939) entitled "Pool
and Pink Pole." It measures 21 by 25 inches and was painted in
The catalogue provides the following commentary:
with the bright glow of California sunshine, Pool and Pink Pole perfectly
embodies the emotive depth and peerless formal execution of David
Hockney’s oeuvre. This exquisite painting is truly an exceptional
example of the rich color palette, complex compositional structure and
intimately significant subject matter that characterizes the artist’s
most iconic paintings. The mélange of cobalt blues, rose pinks and
forest greens testifies to the glorious oasis that Los Angeles
represented to an artist born and bred in the harsh north of England.
Hockney explains: “Whenever I left England, colors got stronger in the
pictures. California always affected me with color. Because of the
light you see more color, people wear more colorful clothes, you notice
it, it doesn’t look garish: there is more color in life here” (David
Hockney, That’s the Way I See It, London 1993, p. 47). A
wholly revolutionary representation of perspectival space that beckons
the viewer into intimate acquaintance with the artist’s personal
habitat, Pool and Pink Pole is
a masterful example of the poignancy and bold compositional progress
that defines Hockney’s radical works of the 1980s.
"After leaving his home in England in 1978 in search of new inspiration, Hockney ultimately settled in Los Angeles. The blue porch of his abode, which envelopes the scene rendered in the present work, is one of the most iconic motifs within the artist’s visual lexicon: a subject that the artist has returned to and reworked repeatedly. Hockney’s characteristic tendency to rework and exhaust a subject can be traced to this exact view, as the instigator for this habit. Not only constrained to painting, the consummate artist would also work with Polaroids in his investigation of this vantage point and its planes of saturated color.
"In Pool and Pink Pole, lines intersect the canvas at dramatically divergent angles; charismatic fields of colors collide and various compositional elements oscillate between the background and the foreground, conveying a prismatic sense of movement, much like Cézanne’s famed depictions of Mont Sainte Victoire or Pablo Picasso's revolutionary Cubist explorations of space. The pink pole in particular, central to the canvas, simultaneously divides and unites the canvas through its spatial ambiguity. The sweeping porch and corresponding awning act as a framing device, thereby placing the viewer in Hockney’s perspective. In so doing, there is not only a provocation for the audience’s emotional and visual association with the work, but one also becomes immersed in the artist’s explorative process. Pool and Pink Pole demands that the viewer experience it not as a static object, but rather as an active entity in a constant state of dynamism. Hockney wanted to “create a painting where the viewer’s eye could be made to move in a certain way, stop in certain places, move on, and in doing so, reconstruct the space across time for itself” (Lawrence Weschler, “A Visit with David Hockney,” in Exh. Cat., Los Angeles County Museum of Art, David Hockney, 1988, p. 93).
"As a master of both color and space, Hockney’s artistic lineage can be traced to the pioneering, turn-of the-century Fauvist movement, spearheaded by Henri Matisse. Painting with vivid brushstrokes and vibrant, raw colors that evoke paintings such as Matisse’s Interior with Egyptian Curtain (1948). Hockney’s superb understanding of color becomes clear. Both artists flattened space into numerous discrete planes, heightening the immediacy of the viewing experience. In Interior with Egyptian Curtain (1948), Matisse depicts the exterior world from the vantage point of a window but blurs this divide by having hints of blue and green paint penetrate the interior plane. Similarly, the landscape itself in Hockney’s work is eliminated by the lack of tonal and perspectival recession employed by the artist.
"Hockney himself attributes many of his artistic developments to the environment in which he lived and worked. “The winding road along which Hockney drove every day from his house in the Hollywood Hills to his studio on Santa Monica Boulevard came to symbolize for him his new experience of the city, and his now-elevated vantage point from the hilly heights rather than from the flat terrain that he had known during earlier sojourns. The pictorial shorthand that he devised for that heart-stopping experience of driving up and down Nichols Canyon was to prove decisive in shaping his notion of traveling through a landscape, and of reconstructing it through a succession of signposts lodged in the mind, that again became a vital constituent of his landscapes when he first painted Yorkshire in 1997” (Marco Livingstone, “The Road Less Traveled,” in Exh. Cat., London, Royal Academy of Arts (and traveling), David Hockney: A Bigger Picture, 2012, p. 34). As Hockney was being reinvigorated by his fresh surroundings, he in turn breathed new life into the once stagnant, historic tradition of landscape painting. It is this continual evolution of his practice throughout his almost sixty -year long career that has led Hockney to be universally celebrated as one of Britain’s greatest living artists, further affirmed by his comprehensive career retrospective at the Tate Britain, London in May 2017 and, subsequently, at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Hockney’s innovative painterly techniques in Pool and Pink Pole come to focus in a landscape that was instrumental to revitalizing Hockney’s career; as such, this work forms the crux of a seminal moment for the octogenarian Brit.
"Initial observation may lend to the assumption that Hockney used his unique painterly techniques to forge an intensely colored and stylized scene in the manner of his Post-Impressionist predecessors. In fact, Hockney’s rendering of his home is remarkably accurate. He designed his Los Angeles home much in the same way that he composes his paintings: “What I am doing, slowly, is making my own environment—room by room—as artists do. Of course it's fun” (David Hockney in Constance Glenn, Artist David Hockney’s House on the West Coast, Architectural Digest, 1 April 1983). Hockney painstakingly and methodically composed an ideal environment for his artistic endeavors; then, in his painting process, he deconstructs the figuration and reassembles it with his unmistakable style. This enables a play with the viewer’s sensory perceptions: we instinctually grasp for what is familiar and recognizable, yet the abstraction and vibrant blocks of colors alter our pictorial expectations. The patterning of the surface of the pool, which could be perceived as representing ripples on water, is actually present in the stylistic design on the floor of the artist’s swimming pool, which he painted himself just two years before the execution of the present work. Pool and Pink Pole both embodies his famed stylistic characteristics, as well as gives viewers a glimpse into Hockney's intimate environment.
Straddling the line between an acute awareness of the art historical innovations of modern masters, such as Matisse and Cézanne, and a deep appreciation for his contemporary surroundings, Hockney fuses myriad references into an entirely new artistic practice. In the present work, we find the full exertion of Hockney’s quintessential playfulness and liberated gusto, revealing how the artist clearly delights in the spirited rendering of his familiar surroundings. As such, Pool and Pink Pole receives due placement as a pivotal work within Hockney's oeuvre."
lot has an estimate of $1,800,000 to $2,500,000. It sold for $3,140,000.
Lot 109, "Death of Giuliano de Medici," by Cy Twombly, wax crayon, graphite and oil on canvas, 39 3/8 by 31 1/2 inches, 1962
109 is a good wax crayon, graphite and oil on canvas by Cy Twombly
(1928-2012). It measures 38 3/8 by 31 1/2 inches and was painted
in 1962. It is entitled "Death of Giuliano de Medici."
catalogue provides the following commentary:
The City Review article on the
Fall 2012 Impressionist & Modern
Art auction at Sotheby's New York
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